How to Safely Use a Dehumidifier To Alleviate Allergies?

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

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Holly Curell

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I suffer badly from allergies and even the slightest pollen, pet hair, or dust mites in the air can set me off. However, several summers ago, I made the discovery that dehumidifiers can really help.

Dehumidifiers primarily work to control humidity, but it turns out that by controlling the humidity in my home, they also had a positive impact on allergens in the air.

That’s when I started doing more research. In this guide, I’ll share what I learned and explain:

  • What’s causing your allergies
  • How dehumidifiers can reduce allergy symptoms
  • And how you should set up your dehumidifier for the best results.

Hopefully, this will help you get some relief from your allergies too.

Key Takeaways

  • Dehumidifiers will not help cure your allergies, however, by improving the air quality and by maintaining optimal humidity, they can help eliminate potential triggers that thrive in humid air.
  • To thoroughly clean the air, it is recommended to go for air purifiers and use them along side dehumidifiers for best results.
  • Dehumidifiers can make your allergy worse if they make the air too dry. Make sure that the ambient relative humidity is as close to 40% as possible and that it does not fall below 30%.

Do Dehumidifiers Help Relieve Allergies?

does a dehumidifier help with allergies

Dehumidifiers don’t cure allergies, but I found that by setting them up across my home it was much less likely that my allergies would be triggered.

This is because a dehumidifier can help prevent allergy triggers from coming into contact with you.

By regulating the relative humidity levels and removing moisture from the air, dehumidifiers can improve air quality in your home and remove some of the leading causes of allergies.

TL;DR: Dehumidifiers won't cure you, but they can help alleviate allergies.


3 Ways Dehumidifiers Help Relieve Allergies

1. Stop Mold Growth

Mold grows in moist, humid environments but it’s present in almost every home, and it turns out that it was one of my major allergy triggers.

However, a dehumidifier can prevent mold growth by lowering your indoor humidity levels.

The dryer air will remove existing mold and create a drier environment that will prevent mold growth in the future.

The lower humidity level prevents mold spores from entering the air and triggering your allergies.

will a dehumidifier kill mold

2. Eliminate Dust Mites

Dust mites are one of the most common allergens in high-humidity areas, but a dehumidifier can stop them from multiplying by lowering the relative humidity.

Dust mites are similar to mold spores in that they thrive in a hot, humid environment.

Dust mites can’t survive without moisture in the air, so if you use your dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity between 40-50%, you can eliminate most dust mites from your home. [3]

3. Dehumidify Your Crawl Space For An Allergen-Free Home

Crawl spaces are really common in many homes, but I didn’t realize just how much mine was impacting my allergies.

Crawl spaces are sometimes described as ‘mold amplification’ environments [4] and they can act as a breeding ground for spores, mold growth, mildew, dust mites, and other pollutants which can cause allergic reactions.

Dehumidifiers can help to regulate the relative humidity in crawl spaces to stop these pollutants and allergens from entering your home in the first place – providing proactive allergy relief.

If you have a crawl space and live in humid climates, I would highly recommend purchasing a dehumidifier specifically for this area and placing it there permanently to ensure that the area isn’t too moist.

TL;DR: Dehumidifiers help eliminate common allergens that thrive in humid environments such as mold and dust mites.


How Different Types Of Dehumidifiers Help Relieve Allergies

Refrigerant Dehumidifiers

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are an energy-efficient way to regulate the relative humidity and limit allergens in your home.

They work like a fridge and use a fan to bring air into the machine and then cool it quickly over metal plates. As the moisture condenses, water will drip into the tank.
do dehumidifiers have freon

Refrigerant dehumidifiers work well in high-humidity areas because they run for long times to remove moisture from the air.

In doing so, they lower air pollution, limit mold growth, and kill dust mites, helping to prevent allergy symptoms.

Unfortunately, refrigerant dehumidifiers don’t work as well in cold environments as the dehumidifier coils can freeze.

Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Desiccant dehumidifiers work well in cold environments and are particularly effective at pulling water out of hard materials such as concrete and hardwood.

They are an excellent choice for basements and can help regulate the relative humidity in your entire home.

This prevents mold growth and kills dust mites, helping to protect you from allergens.

Unfortunately, they are the most expensive option for dehumidifiers and can work more slowly than refrigerant dehumidifiers.

However, they work well in smaller areas or rooms.

Whole House Dehumidifiers

A whole-house dehumidifier is large enough to dehumidify your entire home.

These work best to remove dust mites and limit mold growth long-term and keep allergens out of your home completely.

However, they can be expensive to purchase and install.

Whole-house dehumidifiers come in three types: refrigerant dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers, and thermo-electric dehumidifiers.

All three of these types can work well at removing allergens, depending on your particular situation.

Thermo-electric dehumidifiers are the most affordable and include small desktop models (rather than the whole house size).

However, refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers are generally more powerful.

TL;DR: Refrigerant dehumidifiers are the most common type and energy efficient. Desiccant dehumidifiers are expensive to operate but work great during winters. Whole house humidifiers are large devices that attach to your existing HVAC system.

Types of dehumidifiers

Most Common Indoor Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are allergies that occur during particular seasons, such as in the spring or the fall.

Most seasonal allergies are caused by pollens (there are several types) in the indoor air. [1]

These pollen particles tend to cause “seasonal allergic rhinitis,” which is essentially an irritated nose. Your nose may feel itchy, runny, or stuffy because of the air pollution from this pollen.

Pollen enters the home through air conditioner units, open windows, and simply opening doors to get in and out of your home.

Pet Allergies

Pets can cause and exasperate allergies. Both cats and dogs have allergens that are often associated with eye and nose symptoms in their owners.

If you have red eyes, leaking eyes, a running nose, or a stuffy nose, then you may have a reaction to your pet’s dander [2].

This type of allergy is most common among people who suffer from asthma.

Humidity & Dust Mite Allergies

When the relative humidity is high then the excess moisture can lead to dust mites.

The relative humidity is not responsible for allergies, but the higher concentration of dust mites can impact the air quality and trigger an allergic reaction.

TL;DR: You should identify your allergy triggers in order to figure out whether you need a dehumidifier or an air purifier. Allergies can be cause by seasonal allergies all the way to pets and high humidity.


Most Common Allergy Symptoms

If you’ve regularly got any of these symptoms then it’s likely you are having an allergic reaction, and it’s time to take action:

Stuffy Nose

A stuffy nose tends to be associated with excess sinus pressure and a tight, congested feeling in the nose.

Seasonal allergies are often the cause of a stuffy nose.

Dry Cough/ Wheezing

The dry cough and wheezing symptom is another common allergy symptom.

This one tends to be associated with hay fever, pollen, or mold. This can also be associated with pet dander allergies.

Bloodshot Eyes/ Watery Eyes

Experiencing bloodshot eyes and watery eyes means that a type of allergen has penetrated the mucous membrane around the eye.

This typically means that particles are getting into the eye. This happens a lot with pets who get near their owner’s faces.

If you have a pet allergy, try keeping your pet at your shoulders or below the shoulders whenever possible.

Sore Throat/ Itchy Throat

The sore throat or itchy throat often indicates that allergy sufferers need to drink more water, but it also indicates an allergic reaction to seasonal allergies.

This tends to happen with pollen, hay fever, and other outdoor allergens that make their way indoors.

Breathing Difficulty/Chest Tightness

If you have breathing difficulty or notice that your chest feels tight, you may be suffering from allergies.

This is a common symptom for people with asthma to experience when allergens are present.

Rashness/Scaly Skin

Contact dermatitis often leads to rashes and scaly skin. Many allergens can cause your skin to respond with a rash or scales, such as mold.

Headache/ Dizziness

This is a harder symptom to pinpoint because headaches and dizzy feelings can have many causes. However, this is also an allergy symptom.

Chronic Fatigue Tiredness

If you are chronically tired and always feel fatigued, it may be because of your allergies.

ACLAB Note:

Since most of the allergy symptoms overlap with other conditions like cold/flu, it is important that you consult with your doctor to determine what is causing your symptoms.


Can A Dehumidifier Make Allergies Worse?

I use dehumidifiers to help manage my allergies, but a dehumidifier can make allergies worse if you don’t use them correctly.

This is because they can dry out the air too much.

Very dry air can make conditions like allergies and asthma worse by drying out your nasal passages and airways, so if your dehumidifier is extracting too much moisture, then it can make your allergies worse.

Humid environments can lead to mold spores and dust mites, but very dry air can cause irritation too.

It’s important to find the right balance and create the ideal environment by using your dehumidifier to keep your humidity levels at 30-50%.

dehumidifier settings

TL;DR: A dehumidifier can make your symptoms worse if the humidity levels drop below 30%. An excessively dry air can aggravate allergy triggers.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Air Purifier vs. Dehumidifier – Which is Best For Allergies?

An air purifier is better for allergy sufferers than a home dehumidifier because the air filters eliminate allergens from the air, and allergens are the primary cause of allergies.

However, dehumidifiers are helpful in high-humidity homes where there is a risk of mold and mildew as they can cause allergies too. A combination of both is often a good idea.

What is Better for Allergies: Dehumidifier or Humidifier?

A home dehumidifier works best for those who are allergic to mold and mildew because it can help limit and destroy these allergens.

A humidifier adds moisture back into the air and can help with scratchy, itchy throats and noses and some other sinus problems.

Is Humidity Good Or Bad For Allergies?

Too much humidity and too little humidity are both bad for allergies. Your home should have a 30-50% relative humidity level.

If the humidity is too low, we recommend adding a humidifier to your home. If it is too high, we recommend adding a dehumidifier to your home.

What Humidity Level Is Best For Allergies?

The best humidity level for allergies is between 30% and 50%. We recommend sticking between 35%-45% depending on your specific allergy symptoms.

If you tend to experience a dry, scratchy nose and mouth, you will want higher levels of humidity (45%). If not, we recommend lower levels of humidity (35%) to limit mold and mildew growth.

Yes, Dehumidifiers Can Help With Allergies

Having a runny nose and itchy eyes in my own home had become normal to me, but dehumidifiers have helped me manage my allergies.

Dehumidifiers have helped me control the humidity in my home and remove allergy triggers like dust mites, micro-organisms, pollutants, and mold spores – letting me breathe more clearly.

Hopefully, you now know how to use a dehumidifier to relieve allergy symptoms and you can feel the benefits too.

References: 

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tis-the-allergy-season
  2. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander
  3. https://www.achooallergy.com/blog/solution/dust-mites-solution-guide/
  4. https://ceccrawlspacerepair.com/common-problems/mold-in-crawl-space/
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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